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Posts tagged ‘eye health’

Anthocyanins: The Secret to Goji Berries

My mother used to have tons  of goji berries stashed in her pantry–in plastic containers, in bags and dainty packs of herbal mix.  She used it relentlessly– in soups, in herbal teas and in her main dishes.  She would brew bitter nasty tasting broth, reputedly a magic cure for any kind of ailments and then had to chase us around the kitchen to get us to drink it.

Along with Goji berries was her often repeated health adage, “Eat this, it’s good for your eyes.”  Good for the eyes– seemed absurd when you’re young and your eyes are perfectly good but that didn’t not keep her from pushing her health agenda.

While doing some research on Anthocyanins, I found that my mother knew a thing or two about Goji berries, even if she didn’t know the medical term for it.  It turns out that Goji berries are loaded with Anthoyanins, a potent antioxidant, that also give Goji berries its bright red color.

Anthocyanins are color pigments found in fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Red grapes, pomegranates, eggplants, carrots, peaches, watermelon, guava, grapefruit–to name a few–all these owe their vibrant color to the presence of anthocyanins.  What can anthoyanins do for your health?  For starters, they are supper antioxidants, scavenging the body for free radicals and neutralizing their capacity for cellular damage, thereby reducing risks of cancer. They are also anti-inflammatory agents, fighting against the stresses of aging, improving cardiovascular health and brain function.

Now, back to my mother’s fascination with goji berries.  Scientific researches concur that goji berries are in rich alpha-carotene and zeaxanthin, both anthocyanins. While apha-carotene can be readily converted to Vitamin A and serves as an antioxidant and  an immunity booster, zeaxanthin plays key role in protecting the retina of the eyes.  By absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant for the eyes, zeaxanthin can decrease the risk of age related macular dengeneration, a leading cause of vision problem and blindness in people over 65.

So my mother was right.   Ancient wisdom is seldom wrong–after all, goji berries were used by herbalists in China, Tibet and India for more than 6,000 years.

If she were here today, she would say, “Told you so,” and  you won’t find me  rolling my eyes.

Goji berries can be eaten as a snack–a lot of health stores carry goji berries as a healthy snack, either on its own or in trail mix.  Toss a handful into chicken soup or incorporate them in your main dishes.  Here is a simple stir fry dish:

Goji Chicken

1 thumb of ginger, thinly sliced

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 handful of goji berries

1 stalk of spring onion, cut into 1″ lengths

1 tablespoon of oyster sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Sautee sliced ginger, garlic and goji berries in a teaspoon of oil until fragrant.

Add sliced chicken, oyster sauce and sautee until cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with green onion.

Want to find out more about Anthocyanins?  Read Anthocyanins:  Colors of Health.